Shown above is Butterfly, an urban air mobility vehicle developed by U.S. company Overair. Hanwha units decided to invest 150 billion won in the company. Photo courtesy of Hanwha Systems

Korean conglomerate strives to US UAM company

South Korea’s Hanwha Group announced on June 15 that it had invested 150 billion won ($115 million) in U.S.-based urban air mobility (UAM) company Overair.

Its two units, Hanwha Systems and Hanwha Aerospace, would spend the money to purchase stakes in the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle company.

Specifically, the former would invest $50 million, while the latter would provide $65 million.

Overair has developed Butterfly, an all-electric aircraft with six eats designed to take off and land vertically. The prototype is expected to take flight in 2023.

Toward that end, the firm carried out the full-scale propulsion testing of Butterfly during the first quarter of this year.

The Hanwha affiliates also noted that they are set to provide electric motors and battery packs for Overair’s prototypes.

“Hanwha’s basic principles for new business development is to focus on ‘disruptive innovation’ that can uproot and shift the market and technology trends based on its core capabilities,” Hanwha Systems CEO Eoh Sung-chul said in a statement.

“In alignment with its core capabilities as well as its main businesses, Hanwha is selecting game-changer businesses that it can really excel in the future, and eVTOL vehicle is one of the game-changers.”

Overair’s founding CEO Ben Tigner noted that it would deliver sustainable ride-sharing to the world through cooperation with Hanwha subsidiaries.

“We’re exactly where we want to be, building a superior aircraft company with class-leading mobility technology around an unrivaled aircraft while rapidly approaching the first flight of a purpose-built prototype next year,” he said.

“We’ve proven Butterfly’s propulsion system, so we’ll now begin validating Butterfly’s ability to operate safely in real-world weather conditions, carry significant payloads, and fly incredibly quietly.”

Experts pointed out that the UAM would become one of the most promising businesses.

“A mounting number of countries and cities would adopt the flying cars. They would build infrastructure like landing pads to support vertical takeoff and landing,” Prof. Kim Pil-soo at Daelim University said.

“Hanwha’s investment in Overair is in line with such a trend.”

The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at voc200@gmail.com or 82-2-6956-6698.